Friday, 2200
Will Daria's New Time Slot Hurt or Help?

           The most recent big news in Daria fandom is the announcement that the show has been renewed for a fifth season.  How ever that happened, whether it was the massive letter writing campaign or all of those incriminating photographs I have of MTV executives and on air personalities, I think I can speak for everyone by saying that it is welcome news.  With this good news came a peculiar time slot change  it seems that starting in December with repeats of season three, Daria will air Friday nights at 10PM EST (9PM CST) at least through the first half of season four.  My first reaction to this tidbit of information was "at least they're showing it in prime time again, even if it's a lousy time slot."  But then I got to thinking about whether this arrangement is the death trap it seems to be or is it possible that this could turn out to be a good idea.

           Most conventional wisdom about television viewing habits will tell you that Friday nights tend to be ratings disasters and are not able to command good advertising rates (I don't know for certain, but I would guess that total rating shares are very low, if not the lowest, on Friday nights), since most people go out that night and aren't even watching TV (at least they all claim that they go out).  However, I don't believe that this fact will keep us hardcore fans from at least taping new episode of Daria to watch later.  So, in effect, the base audience should remain unchanged (I wouldn't expect any drastic loss in ratings) but the chances of getting new viewers becomes slimmer.  But since we all know that MTV (usually) re-runs a new episode sometime over the weekend after it originally airs, and if that airing is at an accessible time (say Sunday afternoon/evening), there could still be an influx of new fans.

           So far, I haven't touched on anything that could remotely be considered an advantage of having any show run on Friday nights, but there are some not so obvious advantages out there (if you look hard enough  and some of these things can be eerie).  First there seems to have been a lot of shows that were always on Friday that have been moderate successes.  The most prominent example of this phenomenon is The X-Files, which began its run on Fridays. The X-Files was always one of the highest rated shows on FOX despite, or maybe even because of, its position in the lineup. The X-Files has since been moved to Sundays, but has left proof that Friday doesn't automatically doom a program.  Most of the rest of the successful Friday night shows have been things that I more or less can't stand (like the TGIF line up; you have your Urkels and your Sabrinas and your Corey Matthews).  Maybe these shows illustrate my next point; a show doesn't have to be as good to be successful on Friday night because, on average, that is when television is a veritable wasteland.  The shows consist of news magazines that have been so diluted of any actual interesting information because of an overload of these types of shows, dramas that are either not good enough for Tuesday or Wednesday or not bad enough to be replaced and movies that ran in theaters just barely longer than their actual running time.  That being said, all of those people like myself that are home on Friday could flock to a show like Daria that actually has some substance.  In this way, the move could be seen as bold scheduling tactic that isn't done often - putting the stronger shows up against weak competition.

           Finally, is this an attempt to kill Daria?  It's tough to say one way or the other but if I was to guess, I would say no.  Mainly because I think that MTV knows that it could catch a lot of flak from fans of the shows and critics if it cancelled its most intelligent show; and it wouldn't make sense to kill a consistently high rated show.  Also, it seems like too much effort to get rid of any show - if they consciously wanted to end Daria, they wouldn't have renewed, and more importantly, paid for a fifth season.  Probably no one at MTV thought about it that much (which is the rule, not the exception  MTV's scheduling habits have been compared to "monkeys throwing darts," you never know when things will end up being shown) and more than likely, all of the scheduling decisions are made hastily.  But will this move blow up in their faces?  The jury's still out and we'll just have to wait and see.  I just hope this doesn't hurt Daria too much.

Can you say Saturdays, 4AM?... Email me
Copyright © 1999 Mike Quinn [All Rights Reserved].